Three tiered greens, left to right tee shots, and devilish hole locations await PGA Tour pros who tee it up this week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas.
Precision over power reigns truer than ever this week.
Ranked 73rd in Golf Digest's 100 Greatest American Golf Courses—Colonial is a beast of course. Colonial spans 7,204 yards, whereas the typical golf course ranges around 6,800 yards.
But length is only the half of it.
Deemed the 'Horrible Horseshoe,' Colonial's third, fourth, and fifth holes will prove most arduous for players and hopefully most suspenseful for viewers.
A combined 1,211 yards in distance, these will be no stroll across the fairway.
No. 3, a par-4 spanning 483 yards, requires a perfectly shaped tee shot around multiple bunkers and a massive tree. Even if players somehow find the fairway, this grueling hole will still deliver players with a long-iron into the green, that rarely produces birdies.
No. 4 has not yielded a hole-in-one in the 62-year old tradition of this Championship. At 247-yards, this hole never fails to deliver despair—which can be a warm reminder to the duffers watching on their plasmas at home. If players can somehow choose between 3-iron, hybrid, or choked down three-wood, good luck to them considering this green is like putting on a table-top.
The last and most laborious of the trio remains the 481-yard nightmare-of-a-hole. Players must strategize between a safe play with a long iron or go with the risk-reward of pummeling a driver off the tee. A narrow fairway runs along the right side of the Trinity River and has a massive ditch on the left—the epitome of the need for precision.
Additional challenges include the severe elevation changes, blistering, but tiny, greens and widespread water features.
Looking down the fairway—the most versatile player will be holding the trophy come Sunday.
Past winners of this event include Steve Stricker and Phil Mickleson; two players who embody the importance of resourcefulness in golf, from low, cutting irons off the tee to sky-high wedge shots to the gut-check three-foot putts.
As a fellow lefty, my money lies with Phil. With the massive distance he showed at Quail Hollow off the tee, if Mickleson can straighten out his driver, while maintaining his unbeatable touch around the greens, he could gain another 'W' for his annual scorecard.
Also in my top picks for the week—Tim Clark. He may be 5'9, but he can never be overlooked when discussing potential winners. He is the poster boy of PGA Tour consistency—accurate off the tee, always on the green in regulation, and not just a clutch putter, but a confident one from any and every distance. He needs his 'A-game' this week.
Finally, don't forget about Hunter Mahan. His depth off the tee has reliably been accompanied by unparalleled accuracy, which on a course like Colonial makes him a major contender.
Between the competition and the course, this tournament will undoubtedly favor the competitor who can persevere through the physical struggle of rugged terrain, as well as the mental contest for strategy between the premiere professionals in golf.